The Russian Federation will use any opportunity not to return Ukrainian prisoners of war.
“A lot of people are working on it. I know that for sure. Work on the return is very difficult. Russia will use any excuse it can use not to return [POWs],” Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andriy Kostin said in an interview.
He added that, in particular, the Russian side used as one such pretext the trials of Russian soldiers who had committed crimes in Ukraine and had been captured.
“Sometimes legal procedures are used as an excuse not to hold exchange, or to demand some other conditions, or, for example, to start the same procedures themselves. And this will really complicate the process,” said Kostin.
According to him, that is why Ukraine does not make public the defendants in the investigations into the crimes of the Russian military, especially those who are in captivity.
Also, investigators do not always have the opportunity to prove crimes and bring charges in person because most crimes are investigated in absentia.
“Undoubtedly, the families of the victims have the right to a feeling of justice, and this feeling can come after the punishment of the Russian military in Ukrainian courts. In the meantime, in my opinion, if we can return our soldiers as soon as possible alive and in a better health condition than they can have during many months of their stay in inhumane conditions, then for me, this is the priority,” the Prosecutor General noted.
He also emphasised that Ukrainian law enforcement officers had opened five proceedings over the creation of filtration camps by the Russians. In total, 50 places of illegal detention have been established after 24 February, including those used as filtration camps.
The day before, Russian propaganda resources reported that a penal facility where Ukrainian prisoners of war were held was shelled in Olenivka, Donetsk region. One prisoner was killed, and five more were injured.
The occupiers traditionally accused the Armed Forces of Ukraine of the shelling.
As a reminder, during the first attack on the penal facility in July, the Russians claimed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine allegedly used U.S. HIMARS missile systems.
Later, CNN published an investigation in which the Russian version was completely refuted since there were no craters in the facility’s territory, the beds in the barracks were not moved, and the pillars were not damaged, but massive fire damage was visible. According to experts, HIMARS missiles would have left a crater, and the destruction would have been greater.
The Ukrainian authorities note that the fire in the barracks was caused by the use of thermobaric weapons.
It is currently not possible to conduct an impartial investigation into the causes of death of more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war, as the Russian side does not grant access to the penal facility.